The Diverse Faces of the LGBTQ+ Community in ANZ

Trends / Realness
Bobbi Lockyer/Refinery29 Australia - We Are Many Image Gallery
Yuri Endo
Sep 2, 2021
In recent years, the visibility of the LGBTQ+ community in marketing and the media has increased thanks to big changes in acceptance and understanding. It's about time, as 3.5% of the population in Australia and New Zealand are LGBTQ+ people. In the past, brands have shied away from showing LGBTQ+ people in advertising, because the subject was seen as controversial or a sensitive issue. Nowadays, many brands are becoming bolder and ensuring that they are emotionally connecting to the community, as shown in Bonds OUT NOW campaign. Through our Visual GPS research, we asked consumers in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) if LGBTQ+ people are seen regularly in advertising, and 20% said they do see a more frequent representation but it also indicates that there is still work to do.

Even with growing public acceptance, representation of LGBTQ+ individuals in ANZ media often leans into false or outdated stereotypes, and frequently fails to represent the full spectrum of people that make up this community. A third of ANZ consumers feel that gay men are still portrayed predominantly as "feminine" or lesbian women are portrayed as "masculine" whereas a quarter recognise the LGBTQ+ community when carrying a rainbow flag.
79% of ANZ consumers are expecting brands to capture true lifestyles and cultures
Looking at the most popular imagery from the past 12 months for ANZ, less than 1% included people with LGBTQ+ identities, and of that portion, 70% of LGBTQ+ people are white, young and in a romantic relationship, while the remaining 30% focuses on Mardi Gras and Pride. There is an opportunity for this community to be embraced all year round and with a diversified representation – but this is where some brands fall short.

Consumers can tell when visuals are tokenizing certain identities, as 79% expect companies to not just show people of different ethnicities and backgrounds, but to capture true lifestyles and cultures. Inclusive ads are noticed by consumers. Consumers are more likely to consider, or even purchase a product after seeing an ad which is inclusive. Getting representation right is worth the effort.
So, how do we truly begin addressing these observations in order to be more inclusive when visualizing the LGBTQ+ community in ANZ?  How can we visually support the validation of the full spectrum of gender expressions? The key is to celebrate diverse lifestyle choices, be inclusive of LGBTQ+ people at every intersection of identity and showcase a more comprehensive visual representation of this community. It is critical to always check back in with yourself about whether you are unconsciously choosing stereotypical representations of the community.

When choosing visuals of the LGBTQ+ community in ANZ, ask yourself:
  • Moving beyond Pride, are you showing LGBTQ+ individuals living fulfilling, positive lives, and having shared experiences both within and outside of their communities?
  • Are you showing non‑partnered LGBTQ+ people living full lives?
  • Are you giving space to various expressions of “gender”?
  • Are you representing members of the trans community in your visuals?
  • Are you focused on aspects of transgender individuals' life experience beyond the fact that they are transgender?
  • Are you showing people who may not identify with a binary definition of gender?
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